Carlos Pena has been the subject of recent articles by the local beat reporters. Though, not for the reason you might suspect. With the non-waiver trade deadline this Sunday, speculation has started that the Cubs will hold onto Pena for the remainder of the season and sign him to an extension after the season. With the Cubs being unlikely suitors for both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, re-signing Pena would make sense. However, the motive for the Cubs as the trade deadline nears is to improve their for the future. Pena may give the Cubs the best chance at reaching that goal.
With it being highly unlikely that Matt Garza, Sean Marshall, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, and Carlos Marmol will be traded this week, Pena becomes the Cubs best asset to trade. Even though the Cubs have no first baseman in mind for the start of the 2012 season, the opportunity to get a quality package of prospects for Pena may be too much for the Cubs to pass up. By all intentions, the Cubs will not pass up on the opportunity to trade Pena. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports that the Cubs are surely to trade Pena before this Sunday. Heyman mentions the Diamondbacks as the team that could be in play for Pena.
It should surprise no one that the Cubs and Diamondbacks might match up for a deadline deal. The current Diamondbacks general manager is Kevin Towers. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and Towers have worked well together on past trades when Towers was the general manager of the San Diego Padres. The Diamondbacks have used several different first basemen this season, and Pena would solidify the position for the rest of the season as the Diamondbacks push for a playoff spot. One name to watch on the Diamondbacks is starting pitcher Zach Duke, who is currently pitching out of the Arizona bullpen. The left hander has struggled this season with a 5.37 ERA, but at age 28, there still is time for Duke to progress into viable starting pitcher. Of course, the Diamondbacks would have to throw in a minor leaguer or two in addition to Duke.
The Pittsburgh Pirates recently tried to trade for Pena, but the belief was that the asking price was too high. Pirates general manager Neil Huntington recently admitted that he has ran into some roadblocks when trying to acquire certain players, possibly referring to Pena. This may have been an attempt by Huntington to negotiate through the media. The Pirates and Cubs may still be talking about a possible Pena trade, and Huntington may be trying to gain the upper hand in talks with the Cubs.
In a mere 72 hours, Pena has gone from being off the trade block and into the Cubs plans for 2012 to being surely to be traded before the week is over. The bottom-line is things are constantly changing in regards to rumors leading up to the trade deadline. That being said, you can not hide the facts. The facts are: Jim Hendry does not want to trade any of the players that are under contract next season with Alfonso Soriano being the possible exception; Carlos Pena is a free agent after the season and may be the Cubs most valuable trade piece, thus, making Pena a likely candidate to be traded.